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All in it together

I have just started my PGCE at the age of 42. Being the oldest in the class is no bad thing. I feel like Carole in the Big Brother house. I get to sit next to the gorgeous young man I met at interview, and revel in the advantage of my non-threatening status (while secretly hoping he thinks I'm not half bad for my age).

He is amused I have O-levels and says I am "converting to old money" when I write "3rd year" next to Year 9. I tell him his jeans are falling down and he tells me they're meant to. I know that, but enjoy my old lady status.

In the first sessions, terminology fights for space in our brains. Is it the curriculum, the framework or the objectives we are using? Is it Year 7 or level 7? Is it En1 or En2? Our lesson plans vary from having the potential to fill five minutes to entire terms. But we reflect and develop. After one week, I feel more affinity with my group than I did with colleagues over a 20-year career. I reflect on the teaching strategies used to facilitate this. I constantly reflect.

Reflection relentlessly invades my weekend. I ponder what the laundry on my washing line reveals about me, which leads to ideas about teaching deduction and inference. Flicking through a magazine, I find I am looking for interesting images. I go through the alphabet to test out word games I have thought of.

I reflect on our disparate worries. The younger students worry about teaching people close to their own age, and about what wasn't in their degree, while mine was so long ago I worry that it's all forgotten. Practical concerns emerge. The younger students worry about what to wear for placements and I worry about nasal hair. Despite all these differences, we help each other. And we look forward to sharing our ideas and resources, and learning, and teaching, and reflecting.

And I realise that my biggest advantage is one of age and experience after all. For I know no other job has ever made me feel so challenged, and excited, and eager to begin. So I am going to enjoy this. Oh, and I get to borrow the gorgeous guy's nose hair trimmer. None of the other girls can say th **

Sue Barnes is studying a PGCE in English, drama and media at the University of Cumbria

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